UCL Urban Laboratory



26 March 2015, 6:15 pm–7:30 pm


Lecture to coincide with the release of the book 'Night Walking: A Nocturnal History of London' by Dr Matthew Beaumont

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to





Jordan Rowe


Medawar G01 Lankester Lecture Theatre
Malet Place
United Kingdom

Part of The Nocturnal City series. Dr Matthew Beaumont (Co-director, UCL Urban Laboratory and Senior Lecturer, UCL English) discusses nightwalking in London, drawing from his new book, a captivating literary portrait of writers who explored the city at night, and the people they met.

Throughout its history, London has been two places: the daytime city of business and work, and the night-time palace of dark desires, crime, and vagrancy. This place has attracted writers, lawyers, poets, and politicians who have all attempted to chart and control the nocturnal flows of the capital. In the medieval city, nightwalking was a punishable crime; by the Victorian era, Charles Dickens was forced to wander the streets by night in order to becalm his disturbed mind. Why has the city shrouded in darkness been such a compelling subject over the centuries?

Before the age of the gas lamp, the city at night was a different place, home to the lost, the licentious, and the insomniac. In this lecture, Matthew Beaumont discusses the perambulations of poets, novelists, and thinkers from Shakespeare, to the ecstatic strolls of William Blake, the feverish urges of opium addict De Quincey, as well as the master nightwalker, Charles Dickens.

The lecture will be chaired by Nick Papadimitriou, author of Scarp, a survey of the North Middlesex/South Hertfordshire Escarpment and the subject of the film London Perambulator, featuring guest appearances by Will Self, Russell Brand and Iain Sinclair

Night Walking: A Nocturnal History of London will be available at the lecture for a discounted price of £15. No booking required.

The lecture is part of Urban Lab's Nocturnal City series, exploring how the introduction of gaslight and electric lighting into cities led to the expansion of urban night-time activity, creating new social customs, forms of leisure, opportunities for work, and power inequalities. Two film evenings will take place in April and May.

Dr Matthew Beaumont is Senior Lecturer at the Department of English Literature and Language at UCL and co-director of the UCL Urban Laboratory. He set up the City Centre within the Department of English in 2010, which is now part of the Urban Lab as Cities Imaginaries.

Access to the lecture theatre is via Malet Place. Please consult the map below, and use UCL Maps for more information.

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